Google has targeted music, books, movies and is making a play for an even greater target: television. And they’ve already stacked the government deck in their favor. What’s at stake here? One of the greatest land-grabs in the history of content. And no one is looking.
The new Librarian of Congress Dr Carla Hayden in what can only be described as a vindictive move tried to demote the Register of Copyrights to a position that among other things oversees “point of sales” at Library of Congress. That would be the gift shop. Constructive Termination?
The Authors Guild has countered with a blog post outlining the Register of Copyrights many accomplishments during her tenure:
Upon taking office in 2011, Pallante outlined an incredibly ambitious set of Priorities and Special Projects which she proceeded to fully execute—and even exceed—something especially noteworthy given her relatively small staff. Among her many achievements, the Office in just five short years conducted comprehensive studies and issued policy reports on:
The Making Available Right in the United States (February 2016); Orphan Works and Mass Digitization (June 2015); Copyright and the Music Marketplace (February 2015); Resale Royalties (December 2013); Copyright Small Claims (September 2013); Copyright Protection for Pre-1972 Sound Recordings (December 2011); Legal Issues in Mass Digitization (October 2011); and Marketplace Alternatives to Replace Statutory Licenses (August 2011).
Remember when the Librarian of Congress issued a press release about how Maria Pallante was being “promoted” from the Register of Copyrights to something that sounded awfully functionary–and not a promotion. I don’t know how the Librarian runs things, but it’s not exactly industry standard to lock someone out of their email account when you’re giving them a promotion.
But what’s worse–the Librarian’s moves against Pallante are a textbook example of retaliation constructive termination. That’s the one when a boss makes somebody’s life so miserable at work that the level of passive aggressiveness is so hostile and so toxic that any reasonable employee would rather resign than submit.
Simple explanation of controversy and what to do.
Hayden to Pallante: Go Sell T-shirts.
The tired advice used by the anti-copyright-industrial-know-nothing complex is that musicians should not worry about the unlicensed uses of their works and “you know, just go on the road and sell more t-shirts.” This “brilliant new business model” pedaled by the digital know-nothings is actually something musicians have been doing since the early 1970s. It’s become such a cliche that musicians have taken using it as a joke. For example last time I went to SXSW a panelist was complaining that digital music services weren’t profitable because of “high royalties paid to musicians.” Someone in the back of the room shouted “Tour! Sell more T-shirts!” There was much snickering. Nevermind that the company in question will pay 140 million dollars in stock compensation to senior executives in 2016. So selling T-shirts, merch and swag is the most cliche of all bad tech advice. It’s the music tech conference equivalent of drunkenly shouting “freebird” at a concert.
So check out this unbelievable bit of arrogance from the new Librarian of Congress Dr Carla Hayden. She reassigned the US Register of Copyrights to a position called “Senior Advisor to the Librarian of Congress” but in the description of her new job, it appears one of her main new duties is -wait for it- LOC retail and licensing! As in swag, merch and “point of sale.” Yes, that point of sale part would be the US Library of Congress Gift Shop. The most powerful copyright official in the world was “reassigned” to run a gift shop. Pallante didn’t quit. She was forced out by what can only be described as the US Government’s most condescending and arrogant public servant. And that in and of itself is quite a feat. By any objective measure Hayden is off to a terrible start.
Here is an excerpt from the reassignment letter from Dr. Hayden describing Pallante’s new duties:
In a move with no historical precedent Dr. Carla Hayden the newly appointed Librarian of Congress has removed Maria Pallante the Register of Copyrights. (Hayden testifying before Senate at confirmation hearing).
- The New Librarian and Soros anti-copyright money:
The new Librarian of Congress, Dr Carla Hayden is the former CEO of The Open Society Institute a George Soros funded group. Why does that matter? Like Google, The Soros foundation money regularly finds it way to groups that wish to further weaken or abolish copyright protections for authors all together. Soros is very careful to put his money in places that match his ideology. For instance the Soros family supports the pro-piracy anti-copyright ideologue Lawrence Lessig in his pivot towards campaign finance reform. Regardless in 2014 Lessig’s Mayday Super Pac (SuperPac to end all SuperPacs) couldn’t resist funding a South Dakota Senate candidate that apparently trolled for a copyright lawsuit by recording and broadcasting an unauthorized “reinterpretation” of a Bob Dylan song. Dylan was smart enough not to take the bait. The loudest and most ridiculous example of Soros funding groups seeking to weaken copyright is the bat-shit crazy bunch over at Fight For The Future. This group (run by Google lobbyist Marvin Ammori) is opposed to fixing the loophole in copyright law that allows services like YouTube to host our work without a permission unless we repeatedly tell them to take it down. An endless game of Whac-a-Mole. In response to a Copyright Office public consultation on this matter, Fight For The Future used a “comment bot” to post 86,000 identical canned comments to the regulations.gov website in opposition to the fix. Fight For The Future then bragged about crashing the Copyright Office servers. That’s right this Soros backed group bragged about mounting a DoS attack on a federal agency. This was an attack apparently designed to drown out the first amendment protected voices of authors with spam. This was very simply a hack of our democratic process. Even the Pirate Party would not dare mount an attack like this on the Copyright Office. Creators should be concerned that Dr Hayden’s long association with Soros indicates she harbors a deep anti-copyright agenda or at the very least is hostile to the rights of authors. Certainly firing the sitting Register of Copyrights in her first 6 weeks of her tenure does not bode well.
- Orwell’s lexicon: Not a removal it’s a reassignment!
The new Librarian of Congress is already demonstrating the Orwellian tendencies of the copyleft. The new Librarian of Congress termed the removal of Pallante as a “reassignment.” According to various reports Pallante arrived at the Copyright Office and found herself locked out of her computer. Clearly Pallante was unaware of her “reassignment.” Does this sound like she was willingly reassigned? Clearly she had no clue she was being “reassigned.” And why would the most powerful government copyright official in the world willingly give up her job to be “Senior Adviser for Digital Strategy.” I spent an hour searching US government websites and other sources and the position does not exist. What the fuck? It sounds like the fancy title you give the intern that manages your Twitter and Instagram accounts. Tellingly there is no statement from Pallante accepting such a “reassignment.” Does it trouble anyone else that the Library of Congress, the greatest repository of knowledge on earth, is now headed by someone who’s first big public act appears marred by doublespeak and “truthiness?”
- Take out the Trash Day.
Everyone knows Friday afternoon is take out the trash day in Washington DC. If you need to take out a particularly stinky bit of trash, make it a Friday before a holiday or during the MLB playoffs when the Cubs and Indians look like they are finally going to get in the World Series. Taking out the trash day by definition is something you don’t want anyone to notice you are doing, because you really shouldn’t be doing it. Removing the Register of Copyrights without cause? Make the announcement late Friday right before the big game!
- The Register of Copyrights went against Google/Public Knowledge on 100% licensing and “unlock the box.”
The Register of Copyrights has recently earned the ire of Public Knowledge, a Google astroturf group hostile to copyright. The Copyright Office sensibly pointed out that the Public Knowledge backed 100% licensing rule for songwriters, would unconstitutionally interfere with private contracts and lead to licensing chaos (A federal judge subsequently agreed). Public Knowledge had a hissy fit. Similarly the Copyright Office had weighed in negatively on the Google backed version of “Unlock the Box” at the FCC. While on the surface the “unlock the box” set top box reform proposal seems sensible, The Public Knowledge/Google version is apparently larded with goodies for Google, like a compulsory licensing type scheme for video content that likely violates separation of powers doctrine. In reaction to these two events Public Knowledge wrote this hatchet job on the Register of Copyrights calling for Pallante’s removal. Perhaps it’s just coincidental but it sure looks like Dr Hayden is doing the bidding of a Google astroturf group. Certainly it’s worth some questioning.
- There is something not right about the timing of this article: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/10/27/new-hillary-library/ ostensibly a review of a book, the author of the article Robert Darnton imagines the Library of Congress as a sort of Pirate Bay of Books: “One fantasy could de-demonize Google and revive its original project: digitize all the books in the world and make them available to all the readers in the world—not for money, as Google intended, but for free. Suppose that the new librarian of Congress decided to open the Library to everyone by digitizing all its holdings and making them available from a National Digital Repository.” Sure , defund the entire book publishing system (indie and corporate) leaving only authors with rich sponsors (Koch? Soros?) the resources to write and publish new books. Sounds like a great idea! But aside from that Darnton spends considerable amount of time pumping up the new Librarian Dr Hayden while demonizing Pallante. In fact, if you read the article without seeing the title you would be forgiven if you thought this was about Hayden and Pallante. And when was this article published? Within a few hours of Pallante’s removal. And the author? Robert Darnton of Harvard led the putsch to get rid of the old Librarian of Congress Billington. And Darnton and Hayden the new librarian know each other. They both served on the DLPA steering committee. Just a coincidence? I don’t think so. How much you wanna bet that Darnton and Hayden discussed firing Pallante?
- Always follow the money. And this is the money:
Around the time the new Librarian of Congress was sworn in, Google and Amazon started filing millions of compulsory licenses for songs, using a process that should only be reserved for “address unknown” works. You know like when you really really, can’t find the author of a work after searching all available records (including your own). Look at the screenshots below. Do you think Google really couldn’t find the publisher for the entire Beach Boys catalogue? Or Porgy and Bess? It is now 2016, I can’t imagine that Google and Amazon have yet to pay a single songwriter royalty on these songs. Surely the rights holders are in their payment records. But even beyond that , these songs are easily searchable in the BMI/ASCAP databases. And there is no excuse for Google especially as it also owns a rights licensing company called Rightsflows that purports to pay most YouTube songwriters and publishers. They don’t have any records for the Beach Boys and Gershwin? Even worse it looks like Google is sending licensing notifications for what appears to be unlicensed uploads (bootlegs) of the songs to YouTube. Compulsory licenses are not available for unauthorized releases. If you really think some unknown company called “Fresh Spring Music” licenses all these famous recordings I’ve got some swampland in Florida I want to sell you. Someone “green lighted” this process and it is unlikely to have been the Copyright Office as the copyright experts at the USCO know this is not the intended purpose of the “address unknown” filing. None of this bodes well for the new librarian’s tenure.
Pamela Samuelson: Poor Whinny er
More evidence this is a Google coup. The ever fucking classy Google fan girl Pamela Samuelson on Maria Pallante’s firing. Here she is gloating over the firing of Register of Copyrights. Especially nasty since this was clearly orchestrated by Google because the Register had opposed Google on 100% licensing and the set top box issue. You know what’s worse than being a poor loser Pam? Being a poor winner. You guys wanted her head and you got it. One day you’ll get yours.
Songwriters, performers, authors and creators meet your new copyright overlord: Eric Schmidt of Google.
These are dark days for all creators and copyright holders. After a two month campaign by Google funded astroturf group Public Knowledge, the newly appointed librarian of congress Carla Hayden (herself a Schmidt/Soros acolyte) has fired Maria Pallante the register of copyright. Pallante was the only one standing between Google and what is left of the copyright system.
This firing is virtually unprecedented in US history. The Librarian of Congress generally leaves the Register of Copyrights to run the affairs of the copyright office. However in the last two months the main Google mouthpiece in Washington DC Public Knowledge has been clamoring for her head. Why?
Mainly because she has been a fierce advocate for creators. But over the last year she had the courage to stand up to Google and Public Knowledge as they attempted to make two different end runs around the constitution, drawing the ire of Public Knowledge and Google.
First it was the Google backed “100 percent licensing rule” for songwriters which was rammed through the antitrust division in an extra-constitutional manner by a former Google attorney at DOJ. (A federal court has since blocked it’s implementation and Songwriters of North America are challenging it on constitutional grounds) The copyright office under Maria Pallante had opposed this new rule questioning the legality of the rule and noting the ensuing chaos it would cause in the music licensing space. It would however benefit Google in their billion dollar dispute with Global Music Rights (Pharrell vs YouTube).
Second the Copyright Office also weighed in on the Google version of the “Unlock the Box” proposal before the FCC. Ostensibly this proposal would allow consumers to replace the set top box with new hardware and even software apps. However it appears that Public Knowledge larded the proposal up with all kinds of goodies that would benefit Google. The copyright office again questioned the FCCs legal authority to intervene in private contracts between copyright holders and broadcasters without a legislative mandate. Public Knowledge went apoplectic on the Copyright Office after this.
Now they appear to have gotten their way. In fact the first leak of the news was through a tweet by Public Knowledge. How did THEY know so quickly. Google runs our fucking government.
This should concern every american as the staff at Public Knowledge harbors an extreme far left agenda. The co-founder of Public Knowledge fancies himself a sort of telecommunications/copyright Che Guevara. No seriously he sells T-shirts of himself as Che Guevara. See below.
Creators are going to have to mobilize quickly. We need congressional investigation into this firing. And we need to prevent Google and Public Knowledge from getting their candidate in to the copyright office. Stay tuned for more.
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I’m looking forward to participating on a great panel on fixing our future in the music business, moderated by the brilliant Dr. Gigi Johnson, founder and executive director of the UCLA Center for Music Innovation. Music 2020: Recreating Music’s Future will be a lunch time panel held on October 13 in Los Angeles under the […]